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S TO N Y B R O O K • O L D F I E L D • S T R O N G’S N E C K • S E TAU K E T • E A S T S E TAU K E T • S O U T H S E TAU K E T • P O Q U OT T • S TO N Y B R O O K U N I V E R S I T Y

Vol. 44, No. 3

March 14, 2019

$1.00 RITA J. EGAN

Lifesaving method

Stony Brook Medicine uses new device for complicated aneurysms


Mills Pond Gallery presents In the Garden of Eden exhibit

Also: Junior Iron Chef competition in Lake Grove, Business Highlights: Financial


Honoring Hahn County legislator recognized for her community leadership — A5

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The VILLAGE TIMES HERALD (USPS 004-808) is published Thursdays by TBR News Media, 185 Route 25A, Setauket, NY 11733. Periodicals postage paid at Setauket, NY and additional mailing offices. Subscription price $49 annually. Leah S. Dunaief, Publisher. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733.

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County announces shared services with municipalities to combat tick-borne illness North Shore communities have found a partner in the battle against ticks and the diseases they carry. On March 6, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) announced the SuffolkSHARE Public Health Partnership. A part of the county’s shared services initiative, the new partnership will leverage the efforts of 10 local governments and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to research and combat ticks and tick-borne illness, according to a press release from the county. “This new partnership is another example of local governments working together to save taxpayer dollars and protect the public health of our residents,” Bellone said in the statement. “By taking collective action, we are expanding education, collection, and analysis to ensure that we have the information and resources at our disposal to deal with these illnesses head on.” With the new partnership, towns and villages will be able to strengthen their efforts to combat ticks in ways that were previously prohibitive due to high cost and limited resources, according to the release. The new partnership draws on efforts that include collecting data and procuring materials at lower costs while tracking progress over time. These processes are already underway by the Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee, which researches and combats ticks and associated illnesses. According to the county, each year approximately 650 Suffolk residents contract a tickborne illness, including Lyme disease. Eight villages and two towns will work in conjunction with the county, including Asharoken, Northport, Head of the Harbor, Old Field and Belle Terre, according to the press release. “Protecting public health is a priority for the Village of Belle Terre, and mitigating the risk of ticks and tick-borne illness is an important mission,” Bob Sandak, the Village of Belle Terre mayor, said in a statement. “Having the ability to work with other local governments and Suffolk County on this issue will give us the opportunity to address it effectively and affordably.” Recently, Belle Terre moved to allow deer hunting within the village, citing that New York State is the only governing body that can restrict hunting. Sandak said at a Jan. 15 village meeting, where the possibility of deer culling in part with Port Jefferson Village was discussed, that in the near-mile radius of the village boundaries, there could be as many as 300 deer. It was expected that culling could bring the number of deer down to approximately 50. The Department of Health Services will provide resources and guidance when it comes to ticks, while the county will facilitate testing of samples, collection of data and additional analysis. The cooperative procurement of corn, tickicide and other materials, as well as municipalities working together to collect samples to have them analyzed will happen at a cheaper rate due to consolidation, according to county officials. The county health department and Suffolk County Department of Public Works Vector Control Unit will consult with villages launching their initial efforts at tick mitigation, tick-borne illness mitigation and deer mitigation, which may include municipalities sustaining a four-poster (also known as a deer feeder); using environmental controls, such as landscaping; and utilizing birth control. The participating local governments will assist the Department of Health Services with community education regarding the risk of ticks and how to avoid bites, tick collection for testing and health monitoring of residents. According to the press release, North Haven, Saltaire and Shelter Island already operate four-posters. The deer feeders brush tickicide onto the animals to keep them free of ticks.

“While tick-borne illnesses remain a major concern amongst our community, we continue to look for new and innovative ways to protect the public’s health,” said Michael Levine, Village of Old Field mayor, in a statement. “Thanks to the work of County Executive Bellone and the creation of this new partnership, we will now be able to asses tick conditions, develop a comprehensive plan to combat this public health issues, and educate our residents on ways to stay safe.”

— Rita J. Egan

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Stony Brook dog enjoyed celebrity, overcame adversity BY RITA J. EGAN RITA@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM The Three Village area has been home to many celebrities through the decades, including actor Kevin James and Mets pitcher Steven Matz, but there’s a chance none have been loved as much as a Stony Brook dog named Digger. The dachshund, who appeared in magazine spreads and several television shows including “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Late

Night with Conan O’Brien,” died Feb. 13. Born June 28, 2004, his full name was Stony Brook’s King Digger O’Dell Douglas. Digger carried on the legacy of his original owner Robin Gianopoulos, a dachshund breeder who was known in the Three Village area for her passion for dogs. According to her Jan. 8, 2015, obituary in The Village Times Herald, she was a top breeder for decades at Stony Brook kennels, and many of her dachshunds were champion show dogs. Digger was discovered at one of those shows, according to June Douglas, who adopted Digger from Gianopoulos when the breeder was dealing with health issues. “As a dog, he was the most magnificent little man that you’d ever want to see,” Douglas said. Gianopoulos’ son George, who helped his mother bring Digger to his acting jobs, said Conan O’Brien adored the dachshund. Digger went on to appear on the show about a half a dozen times showing up as The World’s Tallest Dachshund, sitting on a platform with stilts. George Gianopoulos said he remembered one day leaving the studio and finding the show’s fans waiting outside who made a fuss over Digger. “Digger had a lot of personality, and he went through a lot,” George Gianopoulos said. More impressive than his acting career was

School News R. C. Murphy Junior High School

Next level spelling

As the result of her performance, R.C. Murphy Junior High School eighth-grader Sammi Feil, above left, is one of only 50 spellers from Long Island to have qualified for the Long Island Regional Spelling Bee, which will be held March 20 at St. Joseph’s College. In order to qualify for the contest, Sammi had to take an online Scripps spelling and vocabulary test consisting of 50 words. The champion of the 2019 Long Island Regional

the way Digger overcame adversity during his near 15 years of life. Around 2006 he lost control of his hind legs but learned to walk again. Actor David Gianopoulos, the breeder’s son, said it was suspected that the dog had a stroke. He remembers going to a beach in Poquott with his mom and walking Digger in 6 inches of water after wrapping a belt or tie around his hind area. He said due to the buoyancy Digger didn’t have to deal with the weight, and after multiple visits, the dachshund eventually gained strength in his back legs and was able to use them again. David Gianopoulos said Douglas adopting Digger was a blessing, describing her as a compassionate person. “June was an angel to that dog,” he said. “You couldn’t’ have found somebody who was more protective of that dog than June. She went above and beyond, and I’m grateful for that.” Douglas said last year Digger lost control of his legs again, and his veterinarian made a customized wheelchair for him. Toward the end, Digger also lost his eyesight due to cataracts. “I just wish there was something that I could have done to have saved him from any of that stuff,” Douglas said. “I tried to bargain with God, but he doesn’t work that way.” Before his passing, Douglas had some advice for Digger.

Digger, above, posing for the camera. Left, among the celebrities Digger met during his time in show business was actress Linda Blair. Photos from June Douglas

“The angels don’t wear shoes so when they have the treats for you, and they want to play, don’t you nip too hard,” she said.

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School

Photo from Three Village Central School District

Spelling Bee will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee held from May 26–31, in National Harbor, Maryland. Early this year, Sammi competed in the junior high school’s annual spelling bee where she placed first. Her winning words in the school’s spelling bee were “libertarian” and “gypsum.” Alexi Lugris and Ethan Yu placed second and third, respectively.

Sharing knowledge

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School art teacher Michael Sacco is well known for bringing a creative flair to the classroom and sharing his exceptional talents with his colleagues on a national level. Sacco penned his 10th article for SchoolArts Magazine, a publication aimed at sharing best

Photo from Three Village Central School District

practices among educators across the nation. The article focused on Sacco’s ninth-grade media arts 1 course, in particular a T-shirt design project. A copy of the article can be accessed at in the March 2019 edition.



County Legislator Hahn honored for achievements BY RITA J. EGAN RITA@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM

A familiar face in the Three Village and Port Jefferson areas was honored for her career achievements the day before International Women’s Day. On March 7, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) received the Brookhaven Community Leadership Award at a ceremony held at the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook. At the event, which was sponsored by the hotel and Gold Coast Bank, Hahn was surrounded by family members, friends and community members, including Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Setauket Fire District Fire Commissioner Jay Gardiner, and Jane Taylor and Carmine Inserra, Three Village Chamber of Commerce 2nd vice president and executive director, respectively. John Tsunis, owner of the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook and CEO and chairman of Gold Coast Bank, said as a resident of Hahn’s legislative district he is a proud supporter of her and her work. The CEO admired her passing of policies that helped ensure emergency workers were trained in the use of Narcan to revive patients who overdose and a bill that increased

background checks of daycare workers. He also called her a tireless advocate for domestic abuse survivors and a “champion of our environment,” citing her work to help to protect ground and drinking water along with her promotion of recreational activities at local parks. “As we all know, Kara cares deeply for our community, because of her thoughtful leadership Kara was elected to serve as legislature majority leader in 2016 and again in 2017,” he said. Cartright said when she first ran for town office in 2013 she felt “blessed” to know Hahn. The councilwoman described her county counterpart as a worker bee who looks at her job from different perspectives. “What’s so special about Kara Hahn is that she not only looks at things from a legislator perspective, but she looks at it from a community member perspective — a perspective that she’s one of us,” Cartright said. “She’s gone through the process. She understands the struggles and tribulations that many of us have to face within our communities.” Hahn said she was humbled and honored to represent the community. She described the legislative district as an area where people work together to help make it an even better place to live. She cited a recent example where a member of Cartright’s office reached out to her to ask

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, center, receives the Brookhaven Community Leadership Award from Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Holiday Inn Express owner John Tsunis. Photo by Rita J. Egan

how they could help members of a Port Jefferson Veterans of Foreign Wars post attend the Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade so they wouldn’t have to park too far away. Hahn reached out to the Holiday Inn Express, and Tsunis offered the hotel’s shuttle bus for the veterans’ use. “That’s the kind of community we have,” Hahn said. “Everybody wants to chip in. Everybody wants to help. Everybody knows it’s a great place to live and knows that it can be even better. We

have a vision for that, and we keep every day trying to find a way to make things better whether it’s for our environment or our schools.” The Brookhaven Community Leadership award has been presented annually since 2014. Past winners include Charlie Lefkowitz, Three Village Chamber of Commerce vice president; Leah Dunaief, TBR News Media publisher; and Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

Brookhaven cites strong finances, vows to improve infrastructure BY KYLE BARR KYLE@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM The Town of Brookhaven is boasting of its finances while promising to improve town infrastructure, both in its railways and along its streets. The town will be offering up $150 million to fix and aid town-owned roadways in 2019. Town spokesmen declined to offer more details but said more information will be coming later in the week. “We need to ensure solid infrastructure is in place,” town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said. “We cannot wait any longer … we have to bite the bullet, we can’t wait any longer for federal or state assistance.” During a 45-minute speech March 11, Romaine boasted of the town’s finances, citing its 2019 $304.2 million budget which stayed within the tax cap while not using any of the town’s fund balance. The supervisor added that fund balance was another point of pride, saying the fund balance grew by 9.4 percent across the six major funds while the town’s bond rating remained at Triple A, according to Standard and Poor’s. He said this fund balance should the town suffer any unexpected financial issues, such as the 2008 recession.

Further, he promised explicitly to keep taxes as low as possible, despite the town making up approximately 8 percent of residents’ overall tax bill. “Our residents cannot pay more in taxes,” Romaine said. “I don’t have to tell you, but too many people, young and old, are leaving Long Island.” The town also boasted of its Brookhaven United Consolidation and Efficiency Plan, which has started to look at creating shared services between other local municipalities and the town. The plan is due to a $20 million state grant the town received in June 2018 for the purpose of consolidation. In February, the town went into an agreement with Port Jefferson Village to consolidate its tax receiving methods with the town, using $478,000 of the grant funds. Brookhaven Town Receiver of Taxes Louis Marcoccia has said he expects the program will be extended to other villages. In addition to tax receiving, the supervisor said the town has also consolidated services with local municipalities in purchasing road salt and sand, paving, as well as doing road clearing during snows such as with the Village of Shoreham. In April, the town has advised it will launch a municipal market portal, which will enable villages and special districts to have

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). Photo by Kyle Barr

full access to all town contracts. Romaine said the plan, once fully implemented over the next few years, will generate an estimated $61 million in savings for the town. Romaine had complaints about the speed of development by New York State, not only on its roads but also the rail network in the town. Brookhaven has three Long Island Rail Road

lines, one going through Port Jefferson, the Montauk line and the Ronkonkoma line, the most trafficked, which goes through the center of the town. He continued calls for electrification of these rail lines which has also been supported by state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who appropriated funds for an electrification study on the Port Jeff line. “We cannot compete in the 21st-century economy with a 19th-century rail system,” Romaine said. “We collect a ton of money for the MTA, but we don’t see it here.” The LIRR has also agreed to relocate the Yaphank train station so it is adjacent to William Floyd Parkway, just south of the Long Island Expressway. He said this will could take much of the burden off the Ronkonkoma train station, whose parking lot is often way past its max capacity. While touting town savings, Romaine said officials were still concerned about the loss of $1.8 million in state aid through the NYS Aid and Incentives for Municipalities program. “We need to start working as a region, or we will watch the rest of the country pass us by,” the supervisor said. He also discussed environmental measures, including the town’s solar projects, the water table underground and fears of rising tides.


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Email: Pursuant to a judgment of foreclosure and sale duly entered on January 5, 2018. I, the undersigned Referee, will sell at public auction at the Brookhaven Town Hall, Independence Hill, Farmingville, NY 11738 on April 11, 2019 at 10:00 AM premises known as 10 Starfire Dr, Centereach, NY 11720. All that certain plot piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements thereon erected, situate, lying and being in the Town of Brookhaven, County of Suffolk and State of New York. District 0200 Section 392.00, Block 01.00 and Lot 025.000. Approximate amount of judgment $576,256.32 plus interest and costs. Premises will be sold subject to provisions of filed Judgment. Index #23317/2011. John Juliano, Esq., Referee,

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Suffolk County officials have set their sights on the wallet of a disgraced ex-police chief, looking to recoup costs of litigation. Nearly three months after Suffolk County legislators tabled a proposal to sue former police chief James Burke over the $1.5 million settlement it paid out to his victim, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a measure March 5 to begin a lawsuit in an attempt to recoup compensation and salary Burke had received up to when he resigned in October 2015. “Burke clearly breached the oath he took as an officer and the duty he owed the county to serve in his capacity faithfully and lawfully,” Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said. The Smithtown legislator was the main sponsor of the bill. The bill would authorize the county attorney to file a lawsuit by using “the faithless servant doctrine,” which dates back to the 19th century and allows employers to recoup all compensation paid to an employee while they acted in a disloyal manner. The resolution was drafted to recover the compensation paid specifically to Burke and no other county employee. “It feels great,” Trotta said. “Finally a victory for Suffolk County taxpayers.” Originally, Trotta wanted to recoup money from a 2018 settlement the county paid to Christopher Loeb, who was shackled and beaten by Burke back in 2012 as part of a cover-up. County attorney Dennis Brown said at a December 2018 Ways and Means Committee public hearing there was no basis for a possible lawsuit and there was no way to recover or recoup the settlement dollars paid in the lawsuit, according to previous reporting by TBR News Media. In the federal civil lawsuit, the county agreed to pay the settlement amount for the civil rights offenses as they were the ex-police

chief’s employer at the time. The county also paid the settlement for the actions of six other police officers who helped cover up Burke’s actions when he allegedly beat a handcuffed man for stealing a duffle bag from his vehicle. At the same hearing, Howard Miller, a Garden City-based attorney with the law firm Bond Schoeneck & King, presented a case for the county suing Burke for his wages and compensation paid by the county under the faithless servant doctrine. Miller mentioned that he had successfully represented clients at the state level in similar lawsuits, including the William Floyd School District. “This doctrine is designed to create a deterrent to future acts like this, of corruption and misconduct,” Miller said at the December 2018 public hearing. Brown also said in a statement that the Suffolk County Charter authorizes either the county executive or the Legislature to direct legal action. The resolution that was passed by the Legislature provides a framework specific to that action, but does not limit the ability of the county executive to pursue additional legal action. Trotta hopes the measure sets a precedent that anyone, whether in government or not, will be held accountable for their actions. “Former District Attorney Spota empowered and conspired with Jim Burke and Chris McPartland,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) spokesperson Jason Elan said in a statement. “Clearly, all three fall under the faithless servant doctrine so any legal action to recoup taxpayer-funded salary and benefits should include each individual.” According to a representative from the county executive’s office, Bellone signed the legislation to recover salary and benefits from Burke on March 11 and further directed a similar suit be filed against ex-District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide who have also been indicted on related charges.

Obituary Marie Colucci

Marie Colucci, 92, of Stony Brook, died Feb. 28. She was the beloved wife of the late Joseph; cherished mother of Judy Colucci (Edward Ganzer), Joseph (Theresa) and John (Debra) Colucci; and loving grandmother of Eric Ganzer, Sarah Ganzer, Michael Colucci and Joseph

Colucci. She is also survived by her niece Diane Froelich and nephews Carl Colucci and Randy La Gressa along with many other family members and friends. Religious service was held at the Branch Funeral Home of Smithtown. Interment followed at Calverton National Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to the Branch Funeral Home of Smithtown. Visit the online guest book at



Stony Brook Medicine’s new brain surgery is a lifesaver BY DANIEL DUNAIEF DESK@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM Danielle Santilli grappled with numerous discomforts, from headaches to nausea to dizziness, especially when she traveled in a car or stood up quickly. After a series of tests, however, she learned she had a wide-necked bifurcation aneurysm, which is one of the more common types of aneurysms. A diagnosis that has potentially severe consequences, an aneurysm is an area in a blood vessel that grows like a balloon. If it ruptures, it can cause dangerous bleeding. Santilli became a patient of Stony Brook Medicine’s interventional radiologist and professor of neurological surgery and radiology David Fiorella. Santilli was thrilled with the timing, as Fiorella was a co-principal investigator on a recently completed U.S. Food and Drug Administration study for a minimally invasive surgical technique that involves implanting a Woven EndoBridge or WEB. “I feel very fortunate,” Santilli said of the opportunity to be one of the first to receive the treatment. The FDA approved the use of the WEB in January. European doctors have used it effectively since 2011. The WEB is a spherical structure that’s braided out of fine-shaped memory filaments of metal called nitinol, which is a combination of nickel and titanium. The WEB behaves more like a rubber band than a paper clip and wants to return to its original shape. Doctors insert it into a microcatheter in the femoral artery near the groin. Once they release it in an aneurysm and stretch it out, the WEB expands into a spherical shape inside the blood vessel. The body grows new tissue over the aneurysm neck along the metal mesh, which is akin to sealing off a well. The alternative for people with this type of aneurysm can often involve more invasive,

open-brained surgery, Fiorella said. The procedure takes about 40 minutes and often requires a one-night hospital stay. Patients with a WEB procedure also require aspirin for a short period, compared with six months of a blood thinner and then aspirin for much longer periods for other surgical alternatives. Fiorella explained that there were two types of aneurysms. An unruptured version typically doesn’t have any symptoms. Doctors usually discover these through a screening for other symptoms or because of a family history. Patients in this group sometimes receive scans for different and unrelated reasons. Robert Walsh, a 66-year-old retiree and resident of South Jamesport, went to a doctor to check himself out after his younger sister died earlier this year from an aneurysm. Tests revealed that he, too, had an aneurysm. A month after his sister died, Walsh had the WEB procedure. Fiorella and his staff “are probably the best I’ve ever encountered,” Walsh said. “I’m impressed with him and his entire staff for everything they did, with follow-ups, calling in prescriptions, getting my pre-op ready. I have a lot of confidence in Dr. Fiorella.” People with a ruptured aneurysm are dealing with bleeding into their brain. This typically causes symptoms like the worst headache people have ever had, vomiting or a loss of consciousness of rapid neurological deterioration. The survival rate for people in these circumstances is lower and depends on whether they make it to the hospital. The WEB is helpful for patients who have a ruptured aneurysm. Other techniques, such as stents, are not usable for patients under these conditions. “A lot of other tools are off the table” with a ruptured aneurysm, but the WEB is “very effective,” Fiorella said. Some potential patients with a wide-necked

Dr. David Fiorella with patient Danielle Santilli who received a new treatment for aneurysms. Photo by Greg Filiano

bifurcation may not be good candidates for a WEB because their aneurysm is too small or too large for the device. Stony Brook has extensive experience with the WEB. Doctors who want to perform a similar procedure at other hospitals need extensive training from experienced physicians who can prepare them for the procedure. Long Island residents should know they have a “major center right here that’s doing work that surpasses anything going on in Long Island or, in most cases, in the city” with

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Brexit: To leave or not to leave, that is the big question From the view of a Brit, drawing parallels to elections in the U.S. BY JOHN BROVEN DESK@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM Part 1 of 2 After 46 years, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is due to leave the European Union March 29 in an exercise that has been labeled Brexit. You may have heard the term on BBC World News, C-SPAN2’s “Prime Minister’s Questions” and John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” (HBO), or read about the ongoing saga in The New York Times or The Washington Post. Still, in general the United States media coverage has been relatively muted in what has been a complex, often hard-to-understand process. Yet there are enough parallel circumstances across the pond to warrant making it a big news event over here in the U.S. It certainly matters a lot if, like me, you were born in England and are not happy with the Brexit decision. Before I proceed with my personal observations, let me give a brief backdrop to the Brexit scenario. Brexit is a crude abbreviation of “British exit” from the European political and economic union of 28 countries that allows seamless movement of goods and citizens between each member state. Britain’s withdrawal was determined by a referendum held June 23, 2016, in which the “leave” voters outpointed the “remain” side by 17.4 to 16.1 million. In percentage terms it was 51.89 to 48.11. The turnout was some 33.5 million voters out of a possible 46.5 million, 72.1 percent of the registered electorate. As I’ve been living over here for more than 15 years, I was not allowed to vote along with an estimated 700,000 expats and some 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Gerrymandering, anyone?

The UK referendum

I well remember the day when Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative) announced there would be a referendum for Britain to leave the EU after he was re-elected in the general election of May 7, 2015. He had been the country’s leader since 2010 in a coalition government with the pro-European Liberal Democrats, but against all expectation the Conservatives won the election outright. At the time I asked myself, “Why call a referendum?” What I didn’t know was that Cameron wanted to quell once and for all the rebellious EU leavers in his own party and thwart the rise of the populist United Kingdom Independence Party, led by Nigel Farage. To my mind, Cameron compounded his disastrous decision of placing party politics

on a national stage by agreeing to put the referendum to the people in the simplest of terms: • Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union. Yes or No. The openness of the referendum wording gave voters, fed up with years of austerity, a chance to kick the government without understanding the full consequences of their actions. The many dire economic warnings of a precipitous EU exit, ranging from the Bank of England governor to President Barack Obama (D), were riposted as fearmongering. England and Wales voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland did not. London voted overwhelmingly to remain, but the industrial North — the equivalent of our rust belt — predictably went to the leavers. Not surprisingly, the majority of the 50-and-overs, with their rose-tinted memories, voted to leave. On the other hand, the younger generation was largely in favor of remaining, feeling more European and with less attachment to the days of the British Empire. Interestingly, the peak share of any sector came from women between the ages of 18 and 24, with 80 percent voting to remain. Yet too many millennials, as over here in the last presidential election, did not bother to go to the voting booths. As we have seen from the HBO film, “Brexit: The Uncivil War,” the Vote Leave campaign — led by notorious Cameronbackstabber Boris Johnson, U.S. President Donald Trump (R)-acolyte Farage, prominent Tory politicians such as the overbearing Jacob Rees-Mogg and double-dealer Michael Gove — were always a step ahead of Vote Remain, led by Cameron himself, future prime minister Theresa May and reticent Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The leave effort was brilliantly masterminded by Dominic Cummings who outflanked his traditionally minded opponents by using computer algorithms devised by Cambridge Analytica, partly owned — whisper it low — by Robert Mercer from our own Head of the Harbor village on Long Island. With new data available, Cummings understood there was a raft of disaffected voters that had been ignored by politicians of all parties for years. He proceeded to woo them with an appealing slogan, “Let’s take back control,” aided by a red bus carrying the false message that leaving the EU would save the British people £350,000 a week (about $450,000), adding, “Let’s fund our NHS [National Health Service] instead — Vote Leave.” Without justification, it was

John Broven Photo by Diane Wattecamps

said the country would be overrun by Islamic immigrants should Turkey be admitted to the EU. (It hasn’t.) It was a campaign of distorted facts, appealing to those who remembered the good old days when Britannia ruled the waves and the world map was colored mostly British Empire pink. Earlier, I mentioned “parallel circumstances” in relation to the U.S. How about disaffected and ignored voters, a fear campaign based on immigration and Islamophobia, protest votes, absent millennials, discarded trade agreements, gerrymandering, a populist insurrection — and, I hate to say it, fake news. Does that sound familiar?

Events of June 2016

I was in England the week before the referendum and was astonished at how the youthful, vibrant atmosphere I felt on my last visit had evaporated into a sour mood. As a confirmed Europhile, I was even more amazed to see how finely balanced the polls were. The omens were not good, especially when state broadcaster, British Broadcasting Corporation, adopted a neutral stance giving equal time to both campaigns. Why did the leave campaign, with no governmental responsibility or track record, deserve the same coverage as the in-power remainers? I was still in England when staunch remain

campaigner and promising Labour member of parliament, Jo Cox, was murdered June 16, 2016, in her native West Yorkshire at age 41 by a right-wing extremist. Had politics become so divisive that a life had to be taken? Surely, I thought, the British people, with their long-held sense of justice and fair play, would rebel against such a dastardly act and vote for the “good guys” out of respect to Cox. The referendum campaign was halted temporarily, but a news blackout contrived to neutralize any widespread outrage at her death. Referendum night June 23 was covered in full over here by BBC World News. Ironically, with the five-hour time difference, U.S. viewers were more up to date than the sleeping British public. I knew the writing was on the wall when early voting in Sunderland and Swindon went to the leavers. And yet Sunderland, in the relatively impoverished North East, was home to a major Nissan factory (jobs, jobs, jobs), with Swindon in the affluent South West housing a big Honda factory. Both Japanese car companies used their English bases for easy access to the European markets. What were the voters in those towns thinking by voting leave? The leave campaign was victorious. A distraught Cameron resigned July 11, 2016, to be succeeded by May. It was up to her to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the EU, with a leaving date eventually set for March 29, 2019 — the end of this month. The protracted negotiations have been rocky, to say the least, and the outcome has still not been resolved at this late hour thanks mainly to a problem that should have been foreseen at the time of the referendum but wasn’t: the Irish backstop. Stay tuned. Part 2 will bring matters up to date, with crucial parliamentary votes due to be held this week. John Broven, a member of the TBR News Media editorial team, is an English-born resident of East Setauket, and has written three award-winning (American) music history books. TBR News Media welcomes articles written by our readers from their perspective called Your Turns. The articles average between 500 and 600 words. Like our letters to the editors, they are edited for length, libel, style and good taste. Please include a phone number and address for confirmation as well as a headshot to be used with the Your Turn. Email submissions to


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ROCKY POINT 4 bedroom, 2 BA, L/R, D/R, kitchen, laundry, 1 month deposit, $2200/month. Includes heat, H/W, landscaping & snow removal, electric and cable not included, Call Debbie 631-744-5900 Ext 12.

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SATURDAY 3/16 12:30-2:00pm. SETAUKET 25 Brewster Ln. Waterfront Farm Ranch, 4 BR, 4 bths, master built custom home. SD#1. MLS#3100321. $2,990,000. SUNDAY 3/17 12:30-2:00pm SETAUKET 25 Brewster Ln. Waterfront Farm Ranch, 4 BR, 4 bths, master built custom home. SD#1. MLS#3100321. $2,990,000. DANIEL GALE SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY 631.689.6980 SUNDAY 3/17 11AM-1PM ST. JAMES 31 Richie Ct. Updated 4 Br 2.5 Ba, Col. Mstr w/Ba, New Appl, Hwflr, New Roof and Driveway. Mls#3098364. $549,999 JUSTIN BRAUN COACH REALTORS 631-751-603-2064



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Letters to the editor

Unaffordable housing

Jim Soviero, in The Village Times Herald Feb. 28 letter “Rep. Omar deserves bipartisan rebuke,” on a tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar [D-Minnesota], is always quick to spot the mote in his neighbor’s eye and always fails to see the beam in his own. A fervent Trumpist, he routinely swallows Trump’s lies, endless slanders of legitimate asylum seekers as murderers, rapists, drug smugglers. Omar quoted rapper Puff Daddy’s “It’s all about the Benjamins” — a song about $100 bills — in highlighting American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s influence, which in the cynical Citizens United era is apropos; opponents said it tied Jews to money. Rep. Kevin McCarthy [R-California] accused George Soros and Michael Bloomberg of buying elections, to no outcry. Rep. Lee Zeldin [R-Shirley], who kicked off his 2018 campaign with white supremacist Steve Bannon and plain Nazi (Vitezi Rend) supporter Sebastian Gorka, called for Omar’s head. With sublime bad faith, right-wingers


The phrase has become oxymoronic. It’s like a bad riddle: What is something everyone needs, but fewer people on Long Island can have? They call it affordable housing. The real question is, affordable to whom? Smithtown just recently hosted its second housing lotto in a year for affordable housing developments March 11. Another lotto is coming up to bat March 26 for three one-bedroom units with a total monthly gross rent of $2,300; and one two-bedroom unit with a total monthly gross rent of $3,200. The Suffolk County Legislature’s Welfare to Work Commission, which advises the Legislature on issues related to poverty in the county, released a report in 2018 that detailed the holes in affordable housing and government programs. The report describes that if a family wants to rent, only 18 percent of available housing is rental, compared to the national average of 37 percent. Market rate for monthly apartment rentals in Suffolk was $1,589 in 2017, according to census data, meaning families in that market would have to earn $57,204 — 52 percent of the area median income — a year if they spent 30 percent of their income on the apartment costs. In Smithtown, average rental costs are upward of $2,500 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to online rent tracker RENTCafé. It’s hard to call such options such as the lottos in Smithtown truly “cheap,” mostly because each is only cheap by comparison. The Town of Huntington hosted a lotto for Harborfields Estates March 5 with 608 first-time home-buyer applicants entered in that drawing. It’s a staggering number of people all bidding on the hope of owning a four-bedroom home valued $350,125. Real estate taxes on the unit are estimated to be $9,700 annually and estimated HOA fees will be approximately $460 annually. The county report noted the 2017 Suffolk yearly median income was $110,800, while the median price of a home in 2017 was $376,000, according to census data. If an individual or family spent 30 percent of income on housing costs, the national and suggested average, they would have to earn $125,000 a year to afford the median home price. These lotteries are an opportunity for the average person looking for a home on Long Island to have the chance to start a life here, but there’s also something dystopian about the entire idea of gambling a chance to be able to afford something as basic as a residence, whether that means renting or owning. Not to mention, anybody who is making less than the area median income knows just how tough it is to find truly affordable living anywhere along the North Shore. It’s not to say these lotteries aren’t helping those whose names are drawn, but one wonders at the state of some of the hundreds of people who apply for these lottos who then walk away empty handed. While certainly a few of those applying may already own homes or rent apartments and are just looking for a cheaper option, the very nature of a lottery draws upon the desperate. Municipalities at every end of the Island are complaining about brain drain, of Long Islanders fleeing to seek cheaper housing options elsewhere. Their governments need to look at the issue holistically and take an approach that affects communities as a whole, rather than give it to select individuals.

Difference between anti-Semitism, criticism routinely conflate “anti-Semitism” with criticism of Israeli governments or particular Jews, intending, often successfully, to drive a wedge between factions in liberal parties (e.g., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY], anti, and Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-NY], pro, the recent antiboycott, divestment and sanctions bill). Right-wing Jews like Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, and the center-right AIPAC, are enthusiastic practitioners. Republicans support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because he is a criminally corrupt — indicted once again — authoritarian right-winger. He has just brought into his coalition a truly fascist party, Otzma Yehudit, that venerates assassins Yigal Amir (Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) and Baruch Goldstein (29 praying Arabs in Hebron); and wants to annex the West Bank, also expel Arabs. Until recently, Democrats treated Netanyahu like a third rail, so as not to offend rich AIPAC-leaning Jewish donors, who, these days, are to the right of most, particularly younger, American Jews.

The (Netanyahu) Likud Party, since way before 1948, has sought to take over all Palestine, and expel by brutal means those Arabs (all potential “terrorists”) who weren’t forcibly driven out in 1948 to 1949 (Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, etc.). They also claim, falsely, to speak for all Jews, including me and my Israeli relatives. So if someone, driven to fury by the latest (Jewish) Israeli outrage — you name it, from Israeli snipers calmly picking off protesters at the Gaza border (UN: 254 dead, more than 23,000 injured in 2018), to the routine jailing and mistreatment of thousands of Arabs, the systematic theft of their lands, and the daily, pervasive, grinding humiliations of occupation in the West Bank — lets loose a somewhat non-PC tirade that ruffles a few sensitive feathers. I take it very ill that the hypocrites who support and cheer Netanyahu et al. use the lapse to further their ugly ends. Arnold Wishnia Setauket

Insurance should cover overdose treatment Suffolk County led with 337 overdose deaths for New York state between 2009-2013 without a close call. The Bronx came in second with 121 less fatalities, while many of us here in Suffolk still are in denial of what is going on around us. Personally, I know the struggles of addiction firsthand and have seen its destructive nature drag bright spirits to unrecognizable places. These are our children, parents and friends fighting an internal battle that I can only describe as crippling. For many, medication-assisted treatment provides a beacon of hope for recovery and a chance at restoring normality to life. Meanwhile, insurance companies are making it increasingly difficult for individuals seeking treatment to receive essential MATs like buprenorphine — including one medication with the brand name Suboxone — at an affordable price due to insurance coverage changes and prior authorizations placed on the medication.

In 2007, nearly 90 percent of Medicare plans covered buprenorphine without restriction and this number has decreased drastically to 35 percent by 2018. Buprenorphine should be covered by insurance companies without restrictions or prior authorizations to provide accessible treatment for opioid-use disorder. This is one of the three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid-use disorder and is recommended by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Research suggests that MATs such as buprenorphine in combination with counseling result in better health outcomes. While many medical professionals are being trained on providing in-office buprenorphine, physicians report delay due to prior authorizations and barriers to patient care. Buprenorphine is safe and effective. It has been linked to decreases in opioid use and overdoses. It lowers the potential

for misuse due to the ability of drugs to level off at a certain dosage. If these medications are not readily available, we are creating a barrier to treatment. Only two out of every 10 individuals looking for substance abuse treatment can receive it at the time they want. If people cannot access treatment when they want it, they may not get another opportunity. Health care is a basic human right. Some may argue that medication treatment is not sobriety. However, research supports MATs like buprenorphine over abstinence-based approaches due to higher success rates and safer outcomes for patients. Some may need this additional support to serve as a springboard in their recovery. Easy access to MATs like buprenorphine is critical to provide accessible treatment for those searching to climb their way out of a grave being dug by addiction. Jennifer Minett Coram

The opinions of columnists and letter writers are their own. They do not speak for the newspaper.



Pi Day reminds us of the numbers in our lives


hat better day than today, March 14, to celebrate numbers? In case you haven’t heard, math teachers around the country have been getting in on the calendar action for 31 years, designating the day before Caesar’s dreaded Ides of March as pi day, because the first three numbers of this month and day — 3, 1, 4 — are the same as pi, the Greek letter that D. None is a mathematical constant and makes of the above calculations like the BY DANIEL DUNAIEF area and circumference of a circle possible. We can become numb to numbers, but they are everywhere and help define and shape even the non-perfectly circular parts of our lives.

We have a social security number, a birth date, a birth order, height and weight, and a street address, with a latitude and longitude, if we’re especially numerically inclined. Numbers save us, as computer codes using numbers keep planes from flying at the same altitude. Numbers tell us what to wear, as the temperature, especially around this time of year, dictates whether we take a sweatshirt, jacket or heavy coat. We use them when we’re ordering food, paying for a meal in a restaurant and counting calories. They are a part of music as they dictate rhythms and tempos, and of history, allowing us to keep the order of events straight. We use numbers to keep track of landmarks, like the year of our graduation from high school or college, the year we met or married our partners, or the years our children were born. Numbers help us track the time of year. Even a warm day in February doesn’t make it July, just as a cold day in June doesn’t turn the calendar to November.

People complain regularly that they aren’t good at math or science, and yet they can calculate the time it takes to get to school to pick up their kids, get them home to do their homework, cook dinner and manage a budget, all of which requires an awareness of the numbers that populate our lives. We know when to get up because of the numbers flashing on the phone or alarm clock near the side of our bed, which are unfortunately an hour, 60 minutes or 3,600 seconds ahead thanks to daylight savings time. Many of our numbers are in base 10, but not all, as our 24hour clocks, 24-hour days, 12-month years and seven-day weeks celebrate other calculations. Numbers start early in our lives, as parents share their children’s height and weight and, if they’re preparing themselves for a lifetime of monitoring their children’s achievements, their Apgar scores. Children read Dr. Seuss’ “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” We use numbers to connect the dots in a game, drawing lines that

form an image of Dumbo or a giraffe. Numbers progress through our elementary education — “I’m 10 and I’m in fifth grade” — and they follow us in all of our activities: “I got a 94 on my social studies test.” Imagine life without numbers, just for 60 seconds or so. Would everything be relative? How would we track winners and losers in anything, from the biggest house to the best basketball team? Would we understand how warm or cold the day had become by developing a sliding scale system? Would we have enough ways to capture the difference between 58 degrees Fahrenheit and 71 degrees? Objects that appear uncountable cause confusion or awe. Look in the sky and try to count the stars, or study a jar of M&Ms and try to calculate the number of candies. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a number tells its own tale — it was a six-alarm fire, I had 37 friends at my birthday party or I walked a mile in a circle, which means the diameter of that circle was about 1,680 feet — thanks to pi.

Winning the game of New Year’s resolutions


o, how are those New Year’s resolutions going? Do you even remember what they were? If you are sticking to them, heartfelt congratulations. You are one of few with the discipline and tenacity to hang on. But if you are in the majority for having slipped or temporarily abandoned your resolves, here is some help. It’s called habits. Habits can be a valuable tool to change your Between life, both for the you and me better and not. BY LEAH S. DUNAIEF By that I mean, we can slip into some unwelcome behaviors and they become habits almost before we realize it. Or we can consciously take control and set out to break or redefine or make new ones, and as they become

part of a routine, they become easier to follow. This is all far simpler than it sounds, of course. There is a whole branch of science dealing with habits, the unconscious behavioral patterns formed to deal with actions. “We do not so much direct our own actions as become shaped by them,” wrote Jeffrey Kluger in his introductory chapter for a special edition from Time Inc. called “The Power of Habits.” He points out, by quoting Léon Dumont — the 19th century French psychologist and philosopher — that “a garment, after having been worn a certain amount of time, clings to the shape of the body better than when it was new. There has been a change in the tissue, and this change is a new habit of cohesion.” That is certainly true of the old, comfy pair of slippers that, despite their age, you hate to replace them, and the old pair of pants that have come to fit you like a glove. Accordingly, the manner of our actions “fashion for themselves in the nervous system more and more appropriate paths.” Kluger here is again quoting Dumont, who studied the science of laughter, of gratitude, of empathy and, for our purposes here, the science of habits.

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William James, the American philosopher greatly influenced by Dumont, suggested that people were little more than “bundles of habits.” The point of all this is to build on the idea that if we can shape our brains and the rest of our nervous systems the way we shape a pair of pants, we can control and redirect our lives to follow the actions we wish to take, namely our resolutions to be better. Think about how many of our daily moves are just programmed in. We get up in the morning and automatically brush our teeth, take a shower, dress, put up the coffee, get our keys, slide behind the wheel of the car, place the coffee cup in the holder, drive to work, all probably while thinking of something else. Occasionally we are surprised to find we have arrived at our destination without consciously paying attention to the route. Almost all of that execution was the result of habit. Well, suppose you built another step in there, like running 20 minutes on that treadmill or stationary bike collecting dust in your basement before you got into the shower. You like to watch the morning TV shows? Jog



along with them as you watch. If you repeat that action for awhile, it could become a habit and presto! You are doing the recommended minutes of exercise a week without the ironclad discipline seemingly required each day. It just becomes as much a habit as brushing your teeth. If you are forever locked into dipping into the candy jar in the evenings, and you find you are gaining weight, substitute chilled blueberries or red grapes from a cutglass bowl within reach of your fingers. Of course you have to remember to buy the blueberries or grapes beforehand, wash them and keep them in the refrigerator at the ready. Complex habits, like procrastination or chronic lateness or smoking are harder to unlearn — but not impossible. We can rewire ourselves, using substitutions or rewards, splinting a bad habit onto a good one for support or hanging out with those whose actions we would like to emulate. Here’s the bottom line: We can do it. It will just take time for a new behavior to feel part of our routine, an average of two weeks or so. To become a habit will average 66 days.





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The Village Times Herald - March 14, 2019  

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